**UPDATE: Local paper posted my tweets on their website. Feel free to check them out!*****
I am sitting in my living room with Daria DVD in the Blu-Ray. I finally get to eat dinner at almost 11:30 pm. Tonight I was at the Buncombe County Board of Education meeting where they introduced the first reading of the new policy about religion in the school systems. I have often mentioned that I have not been subject to religious discrimination. Tonight I get to join the ranks of the many who have. And to be honest, I am glad I did. Sadistic? Yea. But I think that it’s a learning lesson for me so that I can better help my community grow in interfaith. I have now experienced both sides.
Both Byron and Ginger spoke as well as quite a few people who were looking for diversity training for teachers and administration. Unfortunately they were drowned out by some of the others who were a bit more fearful and quite angry. I learned how many people really don’t know history or law and base their opinions on what their church has told them. Some felt that the new policy would hinder religious freedom and encouraged the board to adopt the policy of allowing for all religious materials. I can respect that to be honest but I would prefer that my religious material wasn’t in the school system unless it’s being used for an academic purpose. I stand strongly that public schools are about academics and religious private schools can teach bible lessons as much as they want. One of the most touching stories was a woman who brought a petition started by young children that the teachers get diversity training. The same woman also brought information on organizations that offer diversity training.
For awhile there seemed to be a balance of people who supported and opposed the policy. But then some preachers got up and made direct personal attacks to Ginger. They claimed she was the only one with a problem with the bible distribution. Little do they understand how many pagans in the county that fear coming out and speaking up. And after that meeting, I completely understand! Then it got even worse when a preacher spoke up that only bibles should be allowed in schools. And that is when the preaching began. People after people felt the need to quote scripture. One guy even read from the bible and stated that if we were real pagans that our ears would burn after listening to the scripture.
All through this we quietly sat and allowed people to speak their minds. While I fully support freedom of speech, this was quite difficult. It was off topic. It was all about the “us vs them” mentality. I wanted to speak because it had been so long since anyone from the pagan community spoke. But I was scared. Yep, you read that right. The hostility was so thick that I wasn’t sure that I could handle standing before those people and be subject to a possible attack. When Ginger spoke about her feelings of being bullied and that she was the only one brave enough to stand up to the masses, the crowd rebuked her. The same crowd we respectfully allowed to speak their minds now could not handle her speaking her own. I will speak at the next meeting. I have things to say and I need to stand by my desire for a strong interfaith world by standing up and speaking.
We got to the Board of Education at 5:30. We finished shortly after 10:30. I was exhausted. I took the time to make eye contact and smile at those who opposed. Many would look away or glare at me. I took time to thank the Board members. I can imagine how tough it is for them to be in there position. After all, they are viewed as siding with the progressives. One of the local Sherriffs escorted Byron & I to Byron’s car, just to be sure we wouldn’t have any problems getting home safely. It’s sad that that measure had to be taken but I am grateful for it all the same. I am home. I kissed each one of my babies. I sat outside with my barefeet in the lawn and thought long and hard about the things I heard and witnessed. I will be praying for a lot of those people tonight. Not that they will be “saved” or come to my religious point of view. But that they find peace in their hearts. That they work through the fear and come out better people.
Change is hard. It doesn’t matter what it is or who it is, change is hard. We have a long road ahead of us. It won’t be over when the policy is passed. And that is okay. Because without these growing pains, change can’t happen. I just hope that many of those people can come to the same table and understand that I still love them regardless of how they feel about me.